Saturday, January 21, 2012

Battelle For Kids To Double Value-Added Teacher Reports This Year

This report from Gongwer News Service was shared by Join the Future. This information will be interesting to teachers in Ohio as the state and districts develop their new teacher evaluation systems.

The report mentions the increased costs to districts that will incurred as Race to the Top Districts in the state comply with the new requirements for teacher evaluations tied to measures of student growth. The report also mentions the many challenges of developing valid and reliable measures of student growth for classes without a standardized test. Many researchers also continue to question the reliability and validity of the value-added measures that do exist--such as those being sold by Battelle for Kids.

"Reports on how student learning has grown under a teacher's tutelage will be provided to 60% of eligible educators this year, developers said recently.

The Department of Education has contracted with Battelle for Kids to work with Ohio schools on implementing teacher reports on how much growth their students show during the course of the year. The State Controlling Board released $2.9 million in Race to the Top money to the organization last April to facilitate the work.

Thirty percent of reading and math teachers covering grades four through eight received reports in the 2010-11 school year and that proportion is planned to double for the current year, Battelle for Kids Senior Director of Research and Innovation Mary Peters said. By 2014 all teachers in those grades and subject areas will receive the feedback.

"The piece that value added provides is the opportunity to be looking at teachers' contribution specifically to student outcomes," she said.

Ms. Peters, along with her team of a dozen professional developers, technology staff, and communications personnel, have been training regional value added leaders to prepare the new set of teachers to be incorporated into the evaluation system.

The next step is to prime principals on how to use the reports, and in May the team will train individuals in a roster verification system that ensures teachers get reliable reports, she said.

"Those two things together then help us bring capacity so that these new 30% of districts that heretofore have never participated in teacher-level value-added reports will be prepared not only on the data side but also with tools and strategies that they can use to help their teachers understand these reports," Ms. Peters said.

"It's equally important that not only are these measures available but that school leaders know how to use this information not in a gotcha kind of way but in a school improvement, teacher improvement kind of way."

The reports use value-added data that is calculated to determine whether a student achieves one year's worth of growth or more or less than that. Because the current value-added measure relies on data from statewide assessments, it can only be computed for reading and math education in grades 4-8.

The state budget (HB 153) requires all eligible teachers to be receiving reports on student growth by the 2013-14 school year. The information is to be tied into teacher evaluations that will eventually be linked to performance pay.

"I think Battelle for Kids feels very strongly that multiple measures are really an important feature of this new teacher evaluation system," Ms. Peters said. "And of course we strongly endorse the idea of using value added as part of that group of multiple measures."

Battelle for Kids, however, is also involved with those districts that on their own want to do more. "Our work is also to provide an opportunity for districts who want to go beyond grades 4 through 8 reading and math," Ms. Peters said.

Developing the technique for calculating student growth in other subjects is done at a cost to districts, but ODE recently issued a "mini-grant" that provides opportunity to build capacity around "extended testing and reporting," she said.

"The idea is to use the most reliable and valid measures that we have on the student growth side. So if in fact we can help by extending the value-added reporting beyond grades 4 through 8 reading and math, that obviously is a preferable option," Ms. Peters said.

"In areas where there are no state tests and where districts need to use local measures, you start getting down into issues around who pays for those measures, how are those measures administered, do they provide adequate information for the purposes of teacher evaluation, or are they even appropriate to use to create a growth measure from it."

About 100 districts currently do extended testing in a variety of areas and the Ohio Appalachian Collaborative is working to use value-added information for evaluations and compensation decisions, she said. "Really the idea is to be able to support those districts that want, for example value-added information at the high school level."

Battelle for Kids and its network of more than 90 facilitators around the state have so far trained more than 1,200 educators from 68% of districts along with nearly 100 community school buildings. Nearly 10,000 online value-added courses have been completed since June, Ms. Peters said.

"In short order it's a lot of training, it's a lot of work and I think a lot of impact," she said. "That's our work, to make sure that teachers and school leaders are using this information well and that they are clear, they understand it."

She said 84% of surveyed participants said they agreed or strongly agreed that they felt comfortable using the value added information reports."

Source: Gongwer News Service via Join the Future

Monday, January 16, 2012

100 Years of History in 10 Minutes

This is a video compilation of 100 years of history in 10 minutes courtesy of Tom Whitby.